Why wouldn't you just buy bulk Italian sausage? Is it a texture thing?
You don't. Look for Italian sausage without the casing. Maybe the person who wrote the recipe had no access to anything but links. In which case, you squeeze it out of the casing and can still retain the flavor.
And sometimes your favorite Italian sausage only comes in links as opposed to bulk. I have a favorite brand with fennel that I've never seen in bulk.
Well, those casings do make for cute packages. But there really is nothing good about "bulk Italian sausage." That's a term that means absolutely nothing if you actually care about sausage. What if you need a Spanish, or French or Portuguese style sausage meat? Of course you can grind it yourself but if you need it already prepped than buy the link. Now bring on that boudin noir.
Hey pierino - cute packaging? Ha! I'm definitely looking you up next time we're up in central ca. I'll bring the best vino if you'll make your famous Porchetta.
TiggyBee you are welcome to visit anytime.
As to "cute packaging" one of my favorite places to eat in the US is Hot Doug's on Chicago's north side. Doug refers to it as "an emporium of encased meats." Not only does he make the best hot dog in Chicago (and hence America) he also serves real charcuterie.
Hot Doug is writing a book -- http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2012-05/hot-dougs-chronicles-98751
so soon we'll all have more ideas for homemade sausage.